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Reigning Big South champ Coastal Carolina takes down Longwood, 72-59

longwood logoBadou Diagne scored 11 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead reigning Big South champion Coastal Carolina to a 72-59 win over Longwood Monday evening in Willett Hall. The victory clinches a first-round bye for the Chanticleers, who are in line for a No. 3 seed in the upcoming Big South Tournament on March 4.

Diagne’s double-double was a piece of an all-around effort from the Chanticleers (21-8, 12-5 Big South), who had five double-figure scorers and 23 points off the bench. Reserve guard Elijah Wilson provided a spark off the bench, scoring all 10 of his points in the second half to help the Chanticleers outscore Longwood 41-28 over the final 20 minutes. Wilson and Diagne joined Shivaughn Wiggins (14 points), Josh Cameron (13) and Marcus Freeman (13) in scoring in double figures for Coastal Carolina.

“They outshot us there in the second half,” Gee said. “I thought their size at the basket hurt us. Their guards made some tough shots. They had some balanced scoring, but it just seemed like their guards scored more.”

Coastal Carolina shot 65.0 percent in the second half and hit 4-of-7 three-pointers down the stretch to pull away in a game that was tied, 31-31, at halftime. Longwood (8-22, 4-13 Big South) managed to keep the rebounding margin 22-19 in the first half, but Diagne took over the glass in the second half to limit Longwood to just two offensive boards.

But even with Diagne’s contributions on the boards, and despite entering the game as the Big South’s leader in rebounding margin, Coastal Carolina employed a guard-heavy lineup that yielded a combined 45 points from the backcourt. Cameron, Gillis and Wiggins did the bulk of that damage during their 16-plus minutes on the court together, while Wilson delivered his 10 points in relief.




The advantages of that small lineup showed up on Coastal’s defensive end of the court as well. While Leron Fisher and Quincy Taylor scored 15 points apiece to lead Longwood, Coastal Carolina’s guard-based scheme made for a difficult night for the Big South’s leading freshman scorer, Ryan Badowski. Badowski, whose 8.4 points per game, 60 made three-pointer and .395 three-point clip were all tops among league freshmen, got off just two shots from beyond the arc in his 14 minutes on the floor. He missed both to snap a streak of four straight games with multiple three-pointers.

“They had four guards, and it was a difficult matchup for him,” Gee said of Badowski, who was held without a field goal for only the fifth time all season. “They had a quickness advantage. I tried to get him going there, but I just felt like we were better served going with a defensive team that could help us guard them a little bit better.”

Sophomore defensive specialist Darrion Allen took over in place of Badowski and poured in nine points on 3-of-3 shooting from three-point range. But even with Allen’s largest scoring output since Dec. 17, 2014, taking Badowski out of the game gave Coastal Carolina the edge in the second half.

After Longwood closed the first half on a 7-0 run to tie the score at 31-31 – doing so on back-to-back three-pointers from Fisher – Coastal Carolina seized the momentum right out of the break. Sparked by a layup from Gillis on their first possession of the second half, the Chanticleers opened up a 12-4 run to stake a double-digit lead. With Badowski being blanketed on the perimeter and Shaquille Johnson enduring a premature exit after a nine-point, eight-rebound night, Longwood could only manage to cut the lead to eight inside the final six minutes.

“You can’t win without all your big guns blazing,” Gee said.

Without those guns glazing, the Lancers would get 20 points from the bench, including nine from Allen, seven from freshman Kanayo Obi-Rapu and four from junior forward Jason Pimentel. Pimentel added two blocks, two steals, an assist, four rebounds and 2-of-2 shooting from the field in his fourth game in the lineup.

Longwood will get a boost soon enough, however, as center Lotanna Nwogbo nearing his comeback from torn thumb ligaments he suffered at Charleston Southern on Jan. 10. Nwogbo is on track to return to the team just before the Big South Tournament on March 4 in Conway, S.C.

“That’ll be a nice relief and one that we’ve been anticipating,” Gee said. “He’s antsy, I’m sure. His whole approach has been really productive. He’s stayed in shape the best he can, so we certainly have big expectations.

But before the Big South Tournament opener, Longwood will bookend the regular season Saturday with a 2 p.m. matchup against Campbell in Willett Hall. Prior to the game, Longwood will honor seniors Taylor and Tyler Akers for Senior Day.

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